Still the firing continued heavily throughout the city. Trent, with his field glass constantly to his eyes, picked out the nearest roof-tops from which the Mexicans were firing. Then he assigned sharpshooters to take care of the enemy on these roofs.
“We can do some excellent work from this position,” the lieutenant remarked to his two younger officers.
It was peculiar of this fight that no regular volleys of shots were exchanged. The Mexicans, from roof-tops, from windows and other places of hiding, fired at an American uniform wherever they could see it.
The very style of combat adopted by the enemy made it necessary for the Americans, avoiding needless losses, to fight back in the same sniping way. Slowly, indeed, were these numerous detachments of Mexicans, numbering some eight hundred men in all, driven back.
Boom! boom! boom! The Mexican artillery now started into life, driving its shells toward the invaders.
“The real fight is going to begin now,” uttered Dave, peering eagerly for a first glimpse of the artillery smoke.
“I hope the ships tumble down whole squares of houses!” was Danny Grin’s fervent wish.
“If they start that, we’re in a hot place,” smiled Trent, coolly.
From the harbor came the sound of firing.
“Why, there’s only one of our ships firing!” exclaimed Darrin. “The ‘Prairie’ is using some of our guns!”
Presently the heavier detonations died out. So splendidly had the “Prairie’s” gunners served their pieces that the Mexican artillerymen had been driven from their positions.
“These Mexicans will have to wait until they get out of range of the Navy’s guns before they can hope to do much with their artillery,” laughed Lieutenant Trent, then turned again to see what his sailormen were doing in the way of “getting” Mexican snipers from other roofs.
Every minute a few bullets, at least, hissed over the roof on which the detachment was posted.
Trent, believing that he was exposing more men than were needed, ordered twenty seamen to the floor below.
By one o’clock the firing died slowly away. Though the Mexicans had made a brave resistance, and had done some damage, they had been so utterly outclassed by better fighting men that they wearied of the unequal struggle.
“But when the enemy get heavy reinforcements from the rear,” Trent predicted, as he stood looking over the city, “they’ll put up a fight here in Vera Cruz that will be worth seeing!”
“I can’t help wondering,” mused Dave Darrin aloud, “what the rest of the day will bring forth.”
“It will be the night that may bring us our real ordeal,” hinted Lieutenant Trent.
IN THE HOUSE OF SURPRISES
“Dalzell, I wish you would take four men and find the commanding officer ashore,” requested Lieutenant Trent.